Should older drivers be regularly re-tested?
By John Welford
November 12, 2015 2:49am CST
I recently read about the case of a young mother who was killed in road accident - she was a walking along a pavement - by a car driven by an 85-year-old man who had mistaken the accelerator for the brake. He was driving in a 20 mile an hour zone and was doing 54 miles an hour when he hit the woman. His reactions were clearly too slow to realise his mistake in time and do something about it. The question is - should he have been driving at all at that age if he was not physically fit to do so, or whose driving skills had lapsed alarmingly? In the UK, when you reach the age of 70 you are required to renew your licence if you want to continue to drive (there is no so such requirement for anyone below that age). All you have to do is complete a form that states that your hearing, eyesight and general health do not make you dangerous to be on the road. However, do we need more than that? Should a compulsory medical check be undertaken? And should older drivers be required to take a new test? As things stand, there are many drivers on the road who would not pass a new test and who have conditions that make them extremely dangerous road users - to themselves as well as others. There are even some very old drivers who have never taken a test - compulsory testing was suspended in the UK during World War II and was only re-introduced in 1946. There are therefore some untested drivers in their 90s who learned to drive on Army lorries and tanks! Surely it is time to change the rules and make a re-test compulsory every three years for anyone aged over 70?
7 people like this
• Exeter, England
12 Nov 15
This is something me and another member had been discussing in another post. I am currently 29 and just taking my driving lessons / test. While I appreciate I'm an inexperienced driving, here in the UK they teach you to be safe, careful, respect everyone on the roads even let other people go before you. Now as I'm learning I'm consciously aware and watching other drivers and it does shock me and comes to no surprise there are crashes, etc. Personally I don't think it should be age related BUT I do think people should be checked / re tested every 5 or 10 years to confirm they are a safe driver and follow all the rules that are part of the highway code.
• Leicester, England
12 Nov 15
Daniel, Like you I was a "late starter" - I was 31 before I learned to drive and passed my test (first time i might add!). However, I had been on two wheels for many years before adding a couple more, and had therefore seen plenty of bad driving by people of all ages. The thing about age is that you can get into bad habits as you get older and see no need to get out of them. Your reactions also get slower - I reckon that failure to respond to a dangerous situation in time is the cause of many accidents involving older drivers.
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Nov 15
I forget what the rules are in Australia. I think perhaps once you get to 75 you have to have regular eye tests. Some health conditions also have to be stated when you renew a licence - things like diabetes and (I think) high blood pressure. My husband has Type 2 diabetes controlled by medication and has to have a yearly check-up with his doctor. Having said all that, it would be a good idea to test younger drivers every few years for a while as they also cause a lot of accidents.
12 Nov 15
Good question. Side note only. Overall road speeds have increased and the pressure to go faster is out there on our roads. Speed posts get ignored as common practice. Cars are made to go faster, ever new car seems to have a modified pedal, one small touch sends the car rolling ahead quickly compared to older cars that required the same thing to happen only by "putting the petal to the metal". This comment is just a side note but not an excuse for poor driving behaviour and it isn't addressing the question the author of the post is presenting. Drive safe.
13 Nov 15
I had to recently see the doctor to renew my licence. She talked about politics to my husband and then signed the papers to say we were fine. She based it on the fact that we looked fine, she said. We asked her what she did if people did not look fine - she said that was a difficult one to answer...so we made our own conclusions.
• Northampton, England
12 Nov 15
Yes, I think testing is necessary and if those who pass were offered an incentive of - say - lower insurance, maybe they'd accept it. I can see the civil liberties people screaming age discrimination but health and safety trumps any discrimination card.